May 18, 2016 by IJV
Following recent allegations of antisemitism in the Labour Party, Independent Jewish Voices (IJV) welcomes the launch of the independent Inquiry chaired by Shami Chakrabarti and announces that it will be making a formal submission to the Inquiry. As a group vehemently opposed to all forms of racial and religious prejudice and counting a number of leading experts on racism and antisemitism among its signatories, IJV is ideally placed to help clarify what does and does not constitute antisemitism today.
IJV appreciates and shares the deep concern about antisemitism expressed by public figures across British society. Like other forms of racism it is a serious social and political problem. But confusion about whether or when opposition to Israeli government policies or criticism of the nature of the Israeli state is antisemitic hinders serious public debate about antisemitism and the framing of policies to combat it.
Antony Lerman, a leading expert on contemporary antisemitism and a member of IJV’s Steering Group, says: ‘Since antisemitism is present among all political groups, it is not surprising that the issue is subject to politicisation and damagingly exploited for partisan political purposes. But politicisation is now so extreme, it is becoming ever harder to undertake the dispassionate analysis, thinking and discussion required to understand how antisemitism manifests itself and to recognise it when it arises. The Inquiry will perform a very valuable service if it restores some sense and balance to how we debate the issue and IJV intends to do what it can to help in this task.’
IJV’s statement on allegations of antisemitism in the Labour Party, featured in a BBC Newsnight report on 5 May and quoted at the launch of the Inquiry, noted that such charges foster an atmosphere increasingly hostile to those fighting for the rights of Palestinians, just as opposition is growing to Israel’s racist and discriminatory policies towards its Arab citizens and its ongoing occupation in violation of international law.
Nadia Valman, a member of IJV’s Steering Group, emphasises that ‘There is a diversity of opinion within the Jewish community about both the recent allegations of antisemitism and the actions of the Israeli government. These opinions deserve to be heard in public, not dismissed.’
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Notes for Editors
Independent Jewish Voices (IJV) is a network of Jews in Britain, with diverse affiliations, who share a commitment to key principles regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: putting human rights first, observing international law, rejecting all forms of racism, and upholding the right of both Palestinians and Israelis to a peaceful and secure existence. IJV’s statement on allegations of antisemitism in the Labour Party can be found at https://ijv.org.uk/2016/05/01/ijv-statement-on-allegations-of-antisemitism-in-the-labour-party/
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